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In Photo: Mamata Banerjee and Bimal Gurung at the launch of Clean Darjeeling drive along with youth services minister Arup Biswas and Gurung’s wife Asha Gurung at Chowrastha in Darjeeling on Tuesday. Photo courtesy: @MamataOfficial

By A Newsman

Darjeeling, 25 August: CHIEF Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday launched a Rs 500 crore Clean Darjeeling Green Darjeeling drive from Chowrastha in Darjeeling town.

Under the initiative, around 75,000 toilets will be constructed across Darjeeling Hills and the project will be implemented jointly by the state government and the autonomous Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), Mr Banerjee said.

GTA Chief Executive Bimal Gurung, his wife Asha Gurung and state youth services minister Arup Biswas were present on the dais during the launch on Tuesday afternoon.

The project will be run on a mission mode to ensure a clean Darjeeling with sanitation facilities in most households and community sanitary complexes, waste management, ban on use of plastic bags, cleaning of the springs and by undertaking roadside plantation drive.

“We will employ 250 people under 100 Days’ Work scheme for cleanliness drive. This model has been a success in Kolkata,” Miss Banerjee said.

Expressing concern over the rise in pollution in Darjeeling, the Chief Minister said that waste management should be a major area of focus. “I want Darjeeling to be number one in cleanliness. Our mission to restore the Queen of Hills to its pristine glory. It is our commitment to the future generation.”

She announced that a plantation drive would soon be started in Darjeeling wherein 50 lakh saplings would be distributed among the Hill dwellers. Reiterating that Darjeeling has a special place in her scheme of things, she listed out several initiatives that her government has undertaken for the Hills.

These include, decision to set up a campus of Presidency University at Dow Hill in Kurseong, a medical college again at Kurseong and a few ITIs and polytechnics across the Hills.

Miss Banerjee who later held meeting GTA functionaries at Richmond Hill said that going by the provisions of the GTA Agreement, the state government would withdraw cases that were registered against the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders prior to 2011.

The Chief Minister also announced that the state would work with GTA to rehabilitate people living in landslide-prone areas in the Hills.

Miss Banerjee, who reached Darjeeling on a three-day tour on Monday, is scheduled to return to Kolkata on 27 August.

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